The University of Southampton

New Foundation highlights need for electronic engineering skills

Published: 
28 January 2010
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The National Microelectronics Institute (NMI)has announced the creation of the UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF) to address the threat of diminishing skills in the UK electronics sector. The Foundation, of which the University of Southampton is a founder partner, aims to increase and sustain the supply of industry-ready graduate engineers and boost the number of graduates who take up careers in the sector.

NMI CEO Derek Boyd said: "The dramatic decline in the numbers of Electronic Engineering graduates will present the country with a long-term issue if left unchecked. We’ve identified the underlying problems in the existing skills pipeline which undermine the future prospects of the industry and UKESF has been created to tackle the major issues. Its goal is to ensure that the sector is supplied with the quality of talent to enable it to continue to be innovative, competitive and able to provide high-value jobs to support the wider economy."

UKESF is a collaboration of public bodies, private companies and leading UK universities, and has been launched with initial start-up funding from founder partners NMI, BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills), SEMTA (The Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies), ARM, Cambridge Silicon Radio, Dialog Semiconductor and Imagination Technologies. Founder university partners are Bristol, Edinburgh, Imperial College, Southampton and Surrey.

Indro Mukerjee, Chairman and CEO of C-MAC MicroTechnology and Chair of SEMTA’s Electronics Sector Strategy Group, said: "It has taken a lot of hard work and collaboration to get UKESF off the ground and I now look forward to it becoming an integral part of the UK electronics scene. The foundation has set itself realistic goals yet to achieve them more private enterprises need to support it. Forward-looking electronics companies need to sign-up to the UKESF programme and help address what is a national concern of strategic importance."

UKESF will initially focus on: • Encouraging electronics employers to engage with schools in order to raise awareness of the sector and the variety of career opportunities it offers. • Electronics summer schools to attract school students towards studying for electronics engineering degrees and careers in Electronic Engineering. • A scholarship scheme, accessible to small and large companies, to link undergraduate students with electronics companies for work experience and to encourage progression into careers within the sector.

Minister for Higher Education David Lammy said, "It is essential that we raise awareness of the rewarding careers available to young people in our growth industries, such as those in the electronics sector and this new foundation will help provide the high quality industry-ready graduates we need for economic success."

The UKESF operational plan aims to have achieved the following levels of engagement with school and undergraduate students, companies and universities within 5 years: • 80 participants p.a. (16-17 year olds) on summer schools. • 1600 pupils p.a. (all ages) reached through employers engaging with schools. • 160 new undergraduate scholarships p.a. • Over 100 sponsoring companies. • Over 50 companies engaging with schools. • 10 partner universities across England, Scotland and Wales.

Professor Alun Vaughan, Deputy Head of School (Enterprise) in Electronics and Computer Science, commented: "We very much welcome this initiative, particularly the broad partnership of organizations we will be working with to encourage increased numbers of students to enter courses in electronic engineering. Our degree courses here in ECS cover a whole range of disciplines which affect us all, every day of our lives. It's essential that we produce graduates with the skills and understanding to play an effective role in developing these important technologies in the future, and in order to do that we need a really good flow of applicants to study electronics at university."

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